Mason pilots eight local high school partnerships for university-managed Direct Admissions Program


George Mason University announced the first series of direct admissions partnerships with eight Northern Virginia high schools. The goal of the pilot is to directly reach students who are academically eligible to Mason but may be experiencing challenges in pursuing higher education.

active campus outside
Wilkins Plaza on the Fairfax Campus. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Office of University Branding

More than 1,100 eligible (3.25 GPA or higher) students from partner high schools in Fairfax County, Alexandria, Manassas, and Manassas Park were emailed admission eligibility offers directly from Mason, waiving requirements for application fees, teacher recommendations, and essays. Mason has also offered direct admissions to thousands of students through the Common App Direct Admissions Program.

The first year Mason offered direct admission through the Common App was in January 2022 to 2,000 students. Of those offered, 232 students accepted and applied for fall 2022, 39 students submitted deposits, and 32 enrolled. Of those, 59% were underrepresented minorities, 37% were first generation, and 20% were residents of rural communities. Their collective GPA was 3.65. The top five majors for those students were computer science, engineering, biology, cybersecurity, and neuroscience.

“Mason’s longstanding commitment to achieve inclusive excellence has paved the way for more students to consider and enter college,” said David Burge, Mason’s vice president for enrollment management. “While colleges around the country are just starting their direct admissions programs to counter declining enrollments, Mason historically has eliminated barriers to higher education through partnerships and several pathway programs, like our multifaced approach to direct admissions.”

Direct admissions is one of many programs that Mason has in place to engage potential students, along with the Early Identification Program, local partnerships with K-12 schools, and the ADVANCE partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). ADVANCE had another record-breaking enrollment period, with 938 new students, a 5% increase from last year. Mason also has entered into transfer partnerships with Germanna, Tidewater, and Piedmont Virginia community colleges through the Mason Virginia Promise.

This fall, Mason became the first public university in the state to top 40,000 students. A record 16.5% of Virginia high school seniors applied to Mason, and 28% of freshmen entered with a 4.0 GPA or higher, while 71% entered with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.